I confess that I struggled a little bit about whether or not to cover a new poll asking (among other things) Massachusetts residents their views on whether or not more gun control laws are needed, particularly since I just wrote about how most gun control polls are hot garbage, but in a way the new survey from the Fiscal Alliance Foundation actually makes my point.
The Massachusetts organization announced its new findings in a poll that not only examined opinions on the state’s gun laws, but also took a look at a proposed ballot referendum that would impose rent control on landlords across the state. Just as we’ve seen with surveys on “red flag” laws, the FAF found that support hinges on how the question is framed.
People who are in favor of rent control would waver in their support of the policy shift depending on how different phrases appear in a potential ballot question, according to a poll released Thursday that focused on a range of issues confronting Beacon Hill lawmakers, including gun reform, standardizing testing and raising the minimum wage.
Nearly 59 percent of people support a statewide rent control policy that “prevents landlords from raising rents too much,” compared to 26 percent who oppose it, the new poll from the right-leaning Fiscal Alliance Foundation found. About 15 percent were undecided or not sure.
But, Paul Craney, the spokesperson for the Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance Foundation, described that query as a “propaganda” question crafted for rent control proponents.
“The intention of asking that question is kind of see where their ceiling is at and then see how those people move from saying yes they support rent control, to having doubt, unsure, undecided or opposing” subsequent questions, Craney said during a virtual press conference Thursday. “It was intentionally put there on purpose just to see how people change their opinion when you ask a conceptual question.”
When asked about people’s support for “allowing the government to control” the rental rate, markedly fewer respondents remained in favor of the policy. Under that language, only 28 percent of people would support rent control, while 47 percent oppose it and 25 percent are undecided or unsure.
When asked about their stance on statewide rent control should it lead to “less investment in maintenance and upkeep of current rental units,” 27 percent of respondents would support the policy. Meanwhile, 41 percent opposed rent control in this question and 33 percent were undecided or unsure.
In another nuanced question, 31 percent of respondents would support rent control if it meant “fewer new multi-family housing units being constructed.” About 39 percent opposed rent control and 31 percent were undecided or unsure in this scenario.
With state lawmakers taking a closer look at gun law changes, About one-third of respondents say Massachusetts gun laws are “not strict enough,” while another one-third say they are “just right” and 8 percent were undecided or not sure. Nearly 20 percent of respondents said the state’s gun laws are “too strict.”